The premier, who was addressing a gathering of heads of over 100 trade organisations, lamented that previous governments had wasted public money on the lavish lifestyles of their leaders, which was why people weren’t willing to pay taxes.
“When leaders live lavishly on public expense, who will pay taxes?” he questioned, adding that he was trying to change the culture starting with himself. “We reduced the expenses of the PM House by 40%,” he said. “I live in my own home, pay my own expenses. My salary is not enough to fulfill my own household expenses,” he added.
The premier also said that his expenses on foreign trips was 10 times less than what was spent by leaders before him.
“I’m just saying that I am starting with myself,” he said. “There should be a realisation about the need to respect public money,” he added, while seeking the business community’s support to raise the country out of the crisis. “Nations only rise when the whole nation is united. The government alone can’t do it,” he said.
Underlining the need for increase in tax collection, the premier said that during the first year of his government, half of the amount collected in taxes went towards payment of interest on loans acquired by the previous governments. “And yet, we allocated Rs190 billion for the Ehsaas programme,” he said, adding, however, that there were many sectors that needed improvement such as education, health and provision of safe drinking water but that would only be possible if the government had the funds.
PM Imran also detailed efforts by his team to improve conditions for the business community, saying “we are continuously trying to figure out how to remove obstacles in the way of the business community.” He announced that earlier in the day, they had decided to remove the need for licences for 102 businesses, making the process simpler for small business owners.
During the meeting earlier on Monday, the PM had expressed concern over the complex licensing regime and said the requirement of licences for businesses of grocery, cloth and bakery were creating difficulties for the common man, Radio Pakistan reported.
He also directed to complete the process of eliminating the unnecessary licences in 30 days.